How I Read Tarot – Prep, Process, and After (Examples)

Disclaimer: This is my process and mine alone. I do not claim this is the only way, or even the ‘right’ way. This serves as a way for beginners to see where to start off, or for others to get ideas. You do not have to copy what I do, so feel free to use this to create your own routine or method.

Prior To Reading

Before the reading, I first really focus on what the reading is about. I really want to be in the mindset for the reading and be able to really focus on it and keep it in the context of what the reading is about. The reason for this is that if I am not prepared for whatever answer may come, or not completely focus, the result may not be as effective. Sometimes I meditate prior, but it is not necessary.

Then, I choose my deck. You can skip this if you only have one, but since I have multiple I like to consider the artwork when preparing for my reading. I would not want to use a dark/creepy deck for a reading that is suppose to be light and fluffy. If you are using a deck similar to the Rider-Waite deck (or a RW deck for short) then you will not have to worry too much about this.

Now, I am going to focus on the Querent (Readee) and the question at hand while I shuffle. It is okay if your mind wonders a bit, the cards know what to do. You can shuffle in any way you feel comfortable. During this time is a really good opportunity to find out if the querent ever had a reading before, and to explain more about how you do so. This helps the querent stay calm and open-minded throughout the experience.

During The Reading

The first thing I do is look at the cards! If I am not using a proper spread, I will start with whichever card is popping out to me and work from there. If I am using a spread, I would start with the first card and work my way through the cards. However, for this sake let’s pretend I am not using a spread. This is what I will go through.

First, I will mention the basic definition. This would be what is “memorized” but this is not necessary! This more helps me start off on the right foot, but it is not needed whatsoever. What I then look for is what is sticking out to me within the cards. This tends to work best with Scenic cards. However, there are some un-scenic cards that are good at this as well! However, I will focus on the scenic cards because Rider-Waite images are fair use so I can use those images freely!

The Fool via Rider-Waite so you can see what I am talking about.

In this deck’s version of the fool, you can see that there is a person who is holding a stick with his belongings tied to it. He is holding it effortlessly, so you can see he is not taking much with him. He is starting from scratch pretty much, but looks calm or even excited instead of stressed. He is ready to try something new. In the other hand, he is holding a white rose. White, to me, resembles innocence and a rose for love. Together, I can tell he is passionate in an innocent way. He wants to do what he is doing even if he has no clue how it will play out. The dog is clearly barking at him, as if warning him to pay attention to the ledge. This can be interpreted as the card warning the querent that even though there is all this possibility in starting new, you need to be cautious of your surroundings! Some cards depict the ledge being over water with the waves in the background, or it can be mountains. The point is, Huge waves or mountains are hurdles that the fool will have to get over eventually. Yellow to me shows optimism, so even though there are hurdles, you need to have faith. All this information I have gathered from simply looking at the picture!

Now, look in the direction he is pointing. Which card is he looking at in the reading? Is there a card above him or to the left? Seeing as he cannot really move forward, because cliff, This could technically be his starting point. Starting over can be exciting but also frighting, so ask the querent if they are holding back and why. Work on that!††††

The Six of Swords via Rider-Waite so you can see what I am talking about.

Now, let’s say this is a two-card reading. The card beside The Fool is the Six of Swords. Yikes. This card is grey and gloomy so it cannot be that good. However, the way they are facing is away from us, as if going away from the problem. However, that is not the focus. It is clear that even though the issue is passed, the querent is clearly still hung up on it! The swords in the image is clearly guarding the people in the boat, even though at the moment there s nothing to be guarded from. Hunched over, this is another sign of hiding away. The querent is still hurt over this, so it is important to respect that while reminding them it is okay to heal, and it is even necessary to do so!

However, now we must combine the two cards n a way they make sense and feed off one another. Now we look at the order. For order, I always go left to right when cards are side by side. Or, if it is a bunch of cards randomly pulled, I go from the card that stuck out the most to me to the least. I started with The Fool, so I start there. There is this sense of starting new with all this potential, but looking back like I said. Next card? Six of Swords. This tells me that the querent is probably recovering from something which is causing them to start anew. However, they are having trouble getting started. While they can see the potential and are excited for the future, the first step is the hardest. They need comfort!

Also, if there is a question, make sure the reading goes with the question. If they asked about work, maybe they lost their job and just got a new one. If they are asking about relationships, they just got into a new relationship but is still hung up on their ex. The possibilities are endless! Most importantly, make it unique! What do you see? The cards are talking to you, wanting you to translate for the querent. Do that! The cards want you to understand so they will show you what needs to be seen. Let’s say you saw the dog in The Fool as excited and not warning, then that’s what the dog is, excited! If the cards had only one meaning, as my good friend Static Chaos said, there would be only one book and that’s all that is needed. There would be one reader because that is all that is needed. The uniqueness is important!

After the initial reading, I always ask what the querent is thinking. I never want to end a session with the client confused. I will take the time to answer questions they have. This way, they can actually digest the message given to them!

After The Reading

After the reading, I take the time to thank the Querent and say it was a joy reading for them. I let them know that I hope the message resonates with them and leave them to go do their thing. Special cases, I might follow up and ask how they are if it was a negative read to see how they are coping.

Now, I focus on myself. Some readings are heavy, either way I take the time to recharge and rest. This helps me avoid burnout. I will get myself something to drink and maybe a snack, and have me-time for about 30 minutes. I will watch Youtube, play games, anything I do not need to use my mind. The importance of rest really is being emphasized here! Without recharging you will not produce the best readings you can. (Can you do your best in anything when you’re drained? Thought so.)

However, now is also a time to charge or cleanse your deck if you choose to do so. I mainly do this after major events, but in my practice if only I am touching the deck, I do not need to cleanse it every single time. However, I do let it “rest” a bit. If you have only one deck you may not have this option which is completely fine, but me switching between decks really helps me get excited to work with a deck again!


What do you do to prepare for readings? What about afterwards? Let me know in the comments below!

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